Lawmakers say FEMA denial of federal aid for southern Ill. unacceptable

WASHINGTON (KFVS) - United States Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Mark Kirk (R-IL) said on Sunday the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA)'s denial of federal funding for the five southern Illinois counties affected by severe storms and tornadoes was unacceptable.

In a letter to Gov. Pat Quinn on Saturday, the funding was denied by FEMA. Heartland News gained a copy of the letter Sunday evening through Sen. Durbin's office. In the letter, FEMA Administrator W. Craig Fugate describes to Gov. Quinn why the state is denied funding:

"Based on our review of all of the information available, it has been determined that the damage was not of such severity and magnitude as to be beyond the capabilities of the State, affected local governments, and voluntary agencies. Accordingly, we have determined that supplemental Federal assistance is not necessary. Therefore, I must inform you that your request for a major disaster declaration is denied."

The letter from FEMA goes on to describe the appeal process to the State:

"This denial may be appealed within 30 days after the date of this letter."

Meanwhile, the lawmakers together called for a meeting between members of the Illinois Congressional Delegation and the FEMA Administrator to discuss the State of Illinois' appeal of this decision.

"This decision by FEMA is unacceptable and out of touch with the reality that residents of Harrisburg, Ridgway and the surrounding areas are facing as the storm clean-up continues," said the Senators.

"We fully support the appeal that Governor Quinn is putting together and would like to discuss that with Administrator Fugate and the Illinois Congressional Delegation in Washington next week.  The damage from the storms in Southern Illinois is among the worst our state has seen in recent years.  Federal funding is greatly needed to help residents and families rebuild and we will continue working to see that these communities are made whole again."

According to a news release, Durbin and Kirk were joined by the entire Illinois Congressional Delegation Thursday sending a letter to President Obama asking him to issue a major disaster declaration for the State of Illinois and to provide relief for Gallatin, Randolph, Saline, Union, and Williamson Counties due to the storms and tornadoes that ravaged the area leaving local governments, charitable organizations, voluntary agencies and evacuees taking on the initial costs of the disasters.

A Presidential disaster declaration would allow cities and counties to apply for federal reimbursements to help pay for storm damage repairs.

FEMA spent last weekend touring the damage in Harrisburg.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.